1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Collins

William Hazlitt, in Select British Poets (1824); Works, ed. Howe (1932) 9:240.



COLLINS, of all our Minor poets, that is, those who have attempted only short pieces, is probably the one who has shown the most of the highest qualities of poetry, and who excites the most intense interest in the bosom of the reader. He soars into the regions of imagination, and occupies the highest peaks of Parnassus. His fancy is glowing, vivid, but at the same time hasty and obscure. Gray's sublimity was borrowed and mechanical, compared to Collins's, who has the true inspiration, the vivida vis of the poet. He heats and melts objects in the fervour of his genius, as in a furnace. See his Odes to Fear, On the Poetical Character, and To Evening. The Ode on the Passions is the most popular, but the most artificial of his principle ones. His qualities were fancy, sublimity of conception, and no mean degree of pathos, as in the Eclogues, and the Dirge in Cymbeline.